With a skillful eye, award-winning wildlife and nature photographer Lori A. Cash, has pursued her passion for capturing an array of stunning images of wildlife and nature. Lori can be found photographing a variety of subjects close to home in Virginia as well as through her travels. Through a variety of genres of photography, Lori hopes individuals will achieve a greater sense of appreciation and understanding of the natural world. As you browse through her photos below, I think you will agree, Lori excels at capturing the essence of a variety of subjects with her very own approach.
Lori, thank you so much for taking the time to share your vision of the beauty of the world through your words and photography and for allowing us to get to know a bit about you. You are a very talented photographer and someone whose work is definitely worth following. I wish you the best of luck with your future projects.
Can you please tell the readers a bit about yourself?
I was born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee. I joined the U.S. Coast Guard at the age of 20 and spent the majority of my time stationed in Rockland, Maine where I began my journey into the world of photography. After my honorable discharge from the U.S. Coast Guard, I settled down in the Virginia/North Carolina area and received my bachelor’s of social work degree. However, photography has been my first love. Even as a child, I was always taking family pictures, and to this day I continue to take a lot of family pictures in addition to my wildlife, nature, and vineyard photography.
Where do you call home?
Currently, I am living in Norfolk, Virginia.
After browsing through your website, I see that you’re truly immersed in the field of photography. What is it that led you towards photography and how long have you been working in it?
While I was stationed in Maine around 1990, I was inspired by the beautiful landscapes of the state, which lead me to purchase my first 35mm SLR camera, a Pentax K1000. I began photographing the landscapes of Maine for the first couple of years before eventually being honorably discharged and relocating to Virginia. I took a wildlife photography course at a local community college in Virginia. This was my introduction to wildlife photography. In addition, this course involved several field trips to Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge on the Eastern Shore of Virginia to photograph the wildlife. I fell in love with the animals and photographing wildlife. From this point on, in the early 1990’s, I started focusing on just wildlife photography. After moving to North Carolina and living near the Outer Banks, I was able to develop and hone my wildlife photography skills and also develop a special love for bird photography. In the late 1990’s, my focus in photography was on wildlife, especially bird photography, with some occasional landscape photography. However, in 2020, right before COVID, I began experimenting with vineyard photography which grew out of my love for Virginia Wine Country and wine. From this, I started dabbling with creating digital art images and wine art images. Also, later in 2020, I began focusing on expanding my portfolio even more with adding some macro photography, especially focusing on flowers. I believe my 30 years of photography experience and my love for photography in general has given me the abilities to diversify into many genres of photography.
What type of shoots do you look forward to?
I always get really excited when I see a bird such as a waterbird, like a duck, snow goose, pelican, shorebird, etc., which is why I do really enjoy going to the beach for sunrise. It allows me to take some sunrise images and photograph the birds on the beach or in the air as well. This would be a happy place for me. In 2020, I spent a lot of time photographing the American Bullfrogs at Norfolk Botanical Garden in Norfolk, Virginia. These little frogs have really gotten me excited to go to the pond areas of the botanical garden in search of the frogs to photograph. Plus, the botanical garden is only a couple of miles from my home, so it has made the photo outings to the botanical garden very simple and easy, especially with all the COVID travel restrictions. I really believe that I may have captured some of my best wildlife images with these American bullfrogs. I love to be outdoors and in nature, so I have been spending most of my time visiting the local parks, nature reserves, wildlife refuges, and beaches just photographing nature and what I may find that inspires me that particular day.
When shooting subjects, what do you find most challenging?
The cold weather is my most challenging part of photography. I love to photograph an awesome snow goose blast off, but it is usually in pretty cold temperatures. I really do not like the cold weather even though I love to photograph nature or wildlife that loves cold weather.
What would you say your most remarkable wildlife encounter has been?
I would say that would have been over several trips to Big Meadows in the Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. Big Meadows is known for the deer being very receptable to being photographed in the meadow field across from the Big Meadows lodge. I have spent a bit of time there photographing the deer, and one summer I was able to witness and capture the beauty of a white-tailed deer and her fawn interacting with one another. It was just a remarkable encounter to be out in nature and witness the beauty of this animal.
How did you develop your photographic style?
While living on the Outer Banks of North Carolina in the early 2000’s, I began to develop my style for bird and wildlife photography by following Arthur Morris, a world-renowned bird photographer and writer, with Birds As Art. I read his books, studied his images, read his blog, purchased his photo guides, and eventually took an IPT (Instructional Photo Tour) led by Artie. The IPT was a fantastic experience, and I have learned so much about photography from Artie’s teaching in that workshop and in his other publications. I developed my style of blurred backgrounds and shooting shorebirds and other birds from the ground level based on my learnings from Arthur Morris. He has not only had a tremendous influence on me as a bird photographer but as a photographer in general.
In the early 2000’s I began entering wildlife photo contests especially ones like Wildlife in North Carolina Photo Competition. I had three of my images place 1st and 2nd in these photo contests a couple years in a row in 2006 and 2007, and that brought a lot of local attention to my photography which led to numerous images of mine being published in local publications. This success gave me a lot of confidence and spurred me to having numerous images being published including cover photos for local Chamber of Commerce guides, other local guides, newspapers and even magazines. These publications helped me to realize that my photography is worthy of publications and that I was on the right track with my style of photography with my wildlife and bird photography.
As for my photographic style with my other areas of photography such as my wine art, vineyard photography, and macro photography, as with my bird and wildlife photography, I just continue to try to keep my backgrounds clean with sharp images. In the past year as I have delved into capturing up close or macro images of flowers, I have started following Mike Moats, an award-winning macro photographer. I learned a lot from him in the same way I learned from Artie, by studying his images, reading publications and his books, and even joining his Macro Photo Club where I have watched a lot of his videos on techniques and equipment.
I really like to share the information that I have learned from my photography experiences just as both Arthur Morris and Mike Moats have. I hope to inspire young and beginning photographers in their journey in photography.
Who is the most inspirational photographer in your life?
Art Morris has not only had a tremendous influence on me as a bird photographer but as a photographer in general. I continue to follow Artie and his photography. Even this past year, he gave me a wonderful compliment on one of my American bullfrog images posted on a Facebook group in which he had commented about my image by saying, “Killer background and frog—love that water”. This comment meant so much to me as Artie has been a very inspirational photographer in my journey in photography. To me, his compliment of my frog image was like winning a photo competition or even the lottery.
How do you keep your photography fresh and how do you stay motivated to keep on learning?
I had to take a little break from photography for a few years in the late 2000’s, which also involved my not having a presence online for a few years due to a medical condition, although I did continue to take some bird and wildlife pictures and a lot of family pictures as well during this time. Then at the beginning of 2020, while visiting a vineyard in Virginia Wine Country, I became very interested in wanting to photograph the beauty of the vineyards, and this began my journey back into photography full-time. I have always loved to be creative which is why I love creating photographs. I have always in the past with my wildlife and bird photography tried to stay very true to the image that I captured in the field. However, in 2020, I began experimenting with creating digital art images out of some of my older images by using a filter effect while reprocessing these images. Thus, began for me a whole new love for doing digital art images and my wine art images, which are just photos that I have taken of wine glasses, etc., and then added filters in post processing to create a wine art image. I even created a Zazzle storefront and Fine Art America portfolio this past year to sell my wine art images as well as my nature and wildlife photography.
In my journey this past year with my photography, I have finally joined the social media channels which have kept things really fresh, motivating, and even inspiring to me.
I have always been an internet learner and love to read and keep up to date with photography online. Having my blog on my website also helps to keep me motivated in wanting to share my photography experiences with others and even in learning about all the new advances in technology with photography.
What has been the best source of information along your photography journey (workshop, online forums, classroom, mentor, etc)?
I will have to say that my internet learning, especially from Arthur Morris and Mike Moats, has been the best source of information for me about photography. I have tried the online forums in the past, but they just did not work for me. However, I really like social media and the sharing of information there with regard to images. Social media can be a really good source of information. In fact, this past year, I also created a private Facebook group for local wildlife and nature photographers that live and/or photograph in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia. This group is called Hampton Roads Nature Photography Group and is a place where I share photography-related information which makes me keep up with what is going on locally and/or nationally with photography. In addition, when members post images, I learn from their techniques and perspectives.
As I have mentioned before, I have done the classroom photography experience with numerous photography college courses which I found to be very helpful to me when I was new to photography and learning about photography. However, I do think the best learning experience comes from learning from other photographers whether it is through their social media channels, workshops, blogs, and publications.
Recently, I have been enjoying following and reading articles by conservationist, writer, and wildlife photographer, Melissa Groo and Alyce Bender, a nature photographer. It has been good to see some women rise to the top of the wildlife and nature photography realm. Their writings and photography are very inspiring to me.
What do you hope viewers take away from your images?
The first thing I hope viewers will take away from my nature and wildlife images is that they will gain a greater sense of appreciation for the natural world. I hope others will see my love for photography whether it is birds, wildlife, seascapes, landscapes, vineyards, macro, wine art or even digital art. I love to capture the tranquility of nature and wildlife and also be creative in my photography with sharing my love for wine and digital art photography.
Do you have any words of advice or encouragement for someone starting out with or wanting to improve their wildlife photography?
My first piece of advice is to learn everything you can about the style of photography you are most interested in and find a photographer or photographers whose style of photography you like and learn from them. With social media these days, it is easy to follow photographers and learn from them online. Also, practice and practice and practice taking pictures in the field whether it is at a local park or your backyard. Getting this experience of taking pictures will help you look at everything in the world from a photographer’s eye or perspective. One last piece of advice that I have learned through my journey in photography is that you do not need all the best and most expensive camera equipment to be successful and to take great photos. The great photos come within one self’s ability and vision and not the camera equipment.
What type of camera(s) do you shoot with? What is your favorite lens?
Currently, I am shooting with a Canon EOS 6D Mark II DSLR camera and a Canon EOS M50 mirrorless camera. In the past, I have had a Canon EOS 1D and a Canon 500mm lens that I used a lot for my bird and wildlife photography. However, I really enjoy photographing with my Canon 6D Mark II and my Canon EOS M50 mirrorless camera. Except for bird or wildlife photography, I always use the live view function on my cameras to take my photos of everything else, such as with my nature, vineyard and macro photography. I do have a range of lenses that I frequently use depending on the type of photography I am doing. As for my seascapes, landscapes, and vineyard images, I like to use a wide-angle lens such as my Canon 17-40mm f/4L USM Lens. However, I do find that I really enjoy using the Tamron 18-400m f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC HLD Lens for Canon EF and find that it has become a go-to lens for me with my M50 mirrorless camera. I even use this combination on my frog images and some wildlife and bird images as well.
What is in your camera bag?
In addition to my two camera bodies, the M50 and the Canon 6D Mark II, and the wide-angle lens, Canon 17-40mm f/4L, and telephoto lens, Tamron 18-400mm f/3.5-6.3, I also have a variety of other lenses that I currently use: Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM Contemporary Lens for Canon EF with Sigma 1.4 teleconverter, Canon 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM Lens and the Tamron 70-300mm f/4-5.6 Di LD Macro lens For Canon EOS. In addition, to my cameras and lenses, I have the following other items in my camera bag: shutter releases for both of my cameras, an assortment of Sing Ray filters with Cokin P series holder and adapter ring, screw-in polarizer filters, bubble levels, Canon EF-M Lens Adapter Kit for Canon EF/EF-S Lenses, LED Light, 12-inch Translucent Diffuser and Gold/Silver Reflector, Creepstop Band, Walt Anderson Panning Ground Pod, and extra batteries and SD cards. Although it is not in my camera bag, I have a couple of tripods: Gitzo 1325 Tripod with BH-1 ball head and a gimbal head, Vanguard Alta Pro2+ 2634B100 with ball head ALTA BH-100 and even a Bogen Monopod 3249. I never leave home without a tripod when going out on a photo shoot.
What is your favorite photography accessory?
For my bird photography, it would have to be the Walt Anderson Panning Ground Pod, and for all my other types of photography that do not involve wildlife and birds, that would be my shutter releases.
How important is Photoshop or other image editing software in your final images?
I convert all my RAW images with Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) and will do some editing in Photoshop or Photoshop Elements. I often use Topaz DeNoise AI and Photomatix Essentials 4.2.2 software for when I bracket my sunrise/sunset images. The biggest part of my post-processing for my digital art and wine art images is using Smart Photo Editor and the various filters effects with that program.
Can you tell me about one of your favorite or most memorable photo shoots? What made it so great and why did you like it so much?
Back in July 2008 I visited Maine and took a tour of Machias Seal Island to photograph the Atlantic puffins. This was one extraordinary experience that I often think of. I relish the lovely memories of being in the blind shooting from various windows and of the non-stop picture taking for those couple of hours in the blind. There were puffins and razorbills everywhere you looked or anywhere you pointed your camera. The birds were right there sitting or standing on rocks, and then you had the incoming puffins and razorbills for photographing them in flight. It was just an awesome and fast-paced experience with a lot of action. On the boat ride back to Cutler, Maine we even saw harbor seals sitting on the rocks. It remains a special memory that I can still vividly envision every time I think of that day at Machias Seal Island.
Do you have any projects that make you look back and shake your head? What made the experience so unpleasant?
The only thing that I can think of was early on in my photography journey into digital photography. I was out of town on a photo shoot, when I had captured some wonderful reddish egret images. I was really excited about the potential of those images only to come to the realization that my memory card failed. As it was early on in my transition to digital photography, I had not yet learned about data recovery software. I lost all of those images from that day. It was a learning lesson in digital photography, but I still remember those images I took that day of the reddish egrets and shake my head as to what might have been.
Do you have any new projects coming up or plans to expand your portfolio?
I am continuing to expand my portfolio of vineyards, wine art, and macro photography. I plan to spend some time this year focusing on these areas of my photography as well as building up my catalogue of images of wildlife and birds. With my blog, I have been sharing the articles that I have written about photography, and I am hoping to expand my article writing to hopefully include publications with some photography and/or wildlife magazines which will be a focus of mine this year as well.
What do you think the future holds for you? Where do you see yourself in the next few years?
I am hoping to continue to share my photography journey with others through my website, social media, and blog. I am hoping that I will be able to be successful in getting some of my photography articles published in some local and major photography and/or wildlife magazines. I will continue to share my photography journey on my blog and to share the knowledge that I have learned over all these 30 plus years that I have been photographing.